Published on December 18th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
How Can Generation Z Compete with Robots? Focus on the Human Touch
It’s interesting that the key to a future with robots is for humans to be more… human. Caroline Monahan reports at Reuters on the ways Generation Z (born after 1996) can succeed in a workplace world complete with robots. It has most likely always been true that employees that stand out are strong on “soft skills.” We didn’t need robot coworkers to prove that out.
Photo above: The head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is seen in the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Matthew Stock – RC1C78FA4F20
NEW YORK (Reuters) – It sounds counterintuitive, but members of Generation Z will have to focus on human connections if they want to compete with robots for the jobs of the future.
Born after 1996 on the heels of the millennials, Gen Z is just entering the workforce. Its members are the first true digital natives, and their ability to adapt to an automating workplace will likely determine their success.
While science and engineering degrees are on the rise, “soft” skills such as intellectual insight, flexibility, intuition and creativity will be essential for workers competing with machines that are growing more technically proficient.
Here are the soft skills Gen Z members need to succeed:
* Be an effective strategic communicator
Some employers fear that digital native workers might be too much like the robots they are competing with. What will make Gen Z workers stand out? Good communication skills.
Those in technology fields often work remotely or in relative isolation, so they do not always get enough time to sharpen their interpersonal skills, said Jason Wingard, dean and professor of the school of professional studies at Columbia University.
There is a way for young people to train for that skill, though, added Vicki Walia, chief talent and capability officer at financial services giant Prudential.
“Gen Zs should not under-emphasize the importance of relationship building, listening, communicating, working collaboratively,” Walia said.
One way to do this is through mentorship. Young workers should work to form relationships with older colleagues or even engage in “reverse mentorships,” helping an older worker learn a new technology skill.
Last year, Russell Bingham, a senior engineering major, participated in the clinic program at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, which partners student teams with companies. The interactions were “eye-opening,” Bingham said, making him find better ways to interact with colleagues.
* Be a continuous learner
While most of Generation Z is still in school, they already need to think about how to continually adapt to a fast-changing world. Their advantage, said Walia, is that they are “digitally capable and multidimensional.”